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Our Tower of Babble

We are in a babbling time, even a blabbering time.

So much assaults our ears, our minds, our tendencies. There is so much to get our hackles up over, to take sides on, to gossip about and share with our friends.

Enough already. This mobile device I have in my pocket has its uses, but somehow our consulting it has turned us against one another. Our rampant googling presumes to make us each an authority over the other. Somehow the fingertip availability of the internet has succeeded in garbling our words, as we climb one upon the other in order to shout the loudest from the tallest point.

There is something very wrong, yet very familiar, about this. It has me consulting Genesis 11:1-9 where I read the troubling story of the tower of Babel.

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 11:1-9 NIV

Are we in our own tower of Babel time? In these days, have we become so engrossed in our “connecting” through the internet and “building” relationships online that we are failing to see and hear what’s true, what’s noble, what’s right, what’s pure, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, and all that is excellent and praiseworthy in our midst? (from Phil 4:8) Because this is what we are charged with doing. And what’s more, these things are what are meant to shape our thinking, and convict or confirm us in our doing.

So, if all of this babbling is distracting me from my purpose, then I had best set aside the shouting going on around me and attend to the whisper within me that says, “You know Me. I am here. Talk to Me. Confirm with Me. Ask questions of Me.”

The best way I know to do this I have set to writing in, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.* God has given me this life and this body in which to live it. God expects better from me, and I believe, better from all of us tuned into the God channel.

Today, God has reminded me, Wendy, if you’re having a problem with the way your world is working, you hold in your hands the way I have given you to come and find me again. Get out that book of yours and the Book of mine and let’s work our way through it.

Friends, will you join me for Made to Move online? I will post the writings and welcome daily comments at the blog on my author website. (https://wendylebolt.com/) We’ll kick off this Sunday! Let’s gather there and leave the babble on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the others behind.

*Learn more about Made to Move and order print or digital versions here.

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What would Jesus Tweet?

“Your words were a blessing.”

It may have been the timing or the delivery or the situation, I don’t know. They were just words, my words, on a card or letter. Not flowery or lovely or well-heeled, but offered sincerely whenever I felt the nudge to write. After I had heard this blessing-thing from a few people, I began to wonder… If my words were received as a blessing, then God was in that. I owed it to God to become the best writer I could.

I signed up for one online course and then another, attended workshops and went to conferences, formed a writers group and began blogging. I had, for years, written regularly in my journals, but this new writing was different. It was public. Out there to be critiqued, challenged, berated and/or celebrated. No controlling what other people say once you punch that send button.

But sending out was exactly what I needed. Being at the mercy of public opinion, especially honest and trusted opinion, required me to risk. Risk spurred me to write well, or at least as well as I could, and then to receive what came back and give it its proper due.

Fit2Finish coverThis week, I held in my hands the very first copy of my very first book. Congratulations and well-wishes abound, celebrating my accomplishment. And it is. The work of a whole career and the lessons of a lifetime have shaped that book. It’s tempting to be proud. Proud of the work, proud of the success, proud of the adulation. Why not take a bow?

But from the pinnacle it is easy to lose one’s balance. Shouting from the mountaintops “I published a book!!!!” would echo from canyon to canyon. What a great symphony that would be! And that’s what the book-people tell you to do. Establish a platform and get it out on social media. Post it to Facebook; share it on Linked In; tweet it from the mountaintop!

But we’re not meant to build on the mountaintop. Peter got laughed off the Mount of Transfiguration for offering to build three tabernacles. How silly we are to think of making our permanent residence here.

Still, why didn’t Jesus make a bit more noise from the mountaintop? I mean, think about the distance those teachings would travel and the multitudes who would hear. What a splash He could have made on Twitter! But that wasn’t His way. When He was surrounded by many He shoved off in a boat to address the crowd. Why use a boat when you can walk on water?!! Because He didn’t want that kind of attention.

Recently, Cara, the young daughter of a dear friend convicted me in this. Cara is 5 years old, I think. Her mom was telling me how Cara had stopped the swimming instructor before her turn to swim from the wall because, first, she had to pray.

“He tells me to pray to him, so I do what he tells me,” Cara says, then repeats the swim lesson prayer for me: “Dear God, thank you for soccer camp and swim lessons. Amen.”

“What does God sound like?” I have to ask. I mean, how can I pass up an opportunity to question an eye witness?

She cocks her head and thinks for a minute, remembering. “He’s quiet, kind of whispering to me,” she says.

“Why do you think He’s so quiet?”

“If he was loud, everybody would look and shout and point…” she explains, matter-of-factly. An older child would have added, “duh,” but older children don’t seem to hear quite so clearly.

I was immediately dumb-struck. What this child was telling me made perfect sense. God speaks in whispers in order NOT to draw attention to Himself. Of course He does, because God is perfect in everything, including humility. Perfectly humble.

There is no pride there. No shouting from the mountaintop, even though His message is the most important of all time, essential for every single soul to hear. He leaves its expression to us to unfold in our lives and our conversations because that’s where it takes on new life.

Fit2Finish: Keeping Soccer Players in the Game is the title of my new book. I have tweeted and Face-booked and will invite my email contacts to opt in to the newsletter to find out more. That’s the way things get done on the mountaintop. But in the valley I expect the real message will get conveyed person to person in quiet whispers, friendly conversations, and a team talk or two.

Let’s get dirty

News happens fast. It’s happening all the time. Get it in progress. Don’t wait. Be the first to know. The kids are all over it. Facebook, twitter, newsfeeds, friend’s posts, discussion boards….emails? They are like the Pony Express. Who has time for the land route when there’s air travel?

We consume news. And we are gorging ourselves. We have to either chew it up and spit it out or swallow it whole and hope it doesn’t get stuck on the way down. Force feeding leaves little time to breathe.

Which is why we glom onto the ‘spiritual path.’ Take it easy. Take it slow. Take your time. Meander. Just breathe. It feels so good to slow down. But that’s not life. At least not the life that comes at me fast. I need resources for this life. Rest and recovery just feels like a cold towel over the head in our neutral corners. When the bell sounds I have to head back into the ring.

I believe God is in the ring. He sends us in, sits in our corner, cheers us on —  all at the same time — because he was the first competitor. But He doesn’t send us in without resources. Oh, we aren’t to bring anything with us. No, our ammunition and weaponry is in our hands, and our heads and our hearts. Hard fought and hard won. We come prepared.

I’m afraid that inviting people into the ease of a faithful life is a lie. It’s a nice image, but it doesn’t last. That, to me, cannot be God.

But a life that sprints from here to there, to yonder and back, that worries and hurries and puts down roots only to tear them up again. That doesn’t sound like God either.

So what gives?

I’m being called into a writing life. I want to right goodness on the page. Not just for acclaim or praise, but to make people feel better. About themselves. About their world. About life. I want to write the happy ending. But I don’t live in a place of endings. I live in a tangle of pathways.

I read:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

I see the straight path. I wanna point my finger and say, but friends this way is the right way. Think about a world like that!  Full of nobility and right, pure loveliness, nothing but praise. Just imagine!

How can I live this in a world as disjointed and spastic and dishonoring as mine?

I have to move at its pace. Perhaps even faster. Now that’s frightening. But really, can God not take that pace? My worry comes from my standing at the center and shooting out in all directions at once. Let me do this and that. Let me go here and there. Each time, back-pedaling to the center like I’m tethered by a rebounding rope. A puppet on an elastic string. That is not God.

I read today, “Reverence requires a certain pace. It requires a willingness to take detours, even side trips, which are not part of the original plan.” Yes! But we mistake that to mean we are to do this slowly and gently. To meander. What if we detour –  at the pace of the world? Could we so trust the rightness of the True Path, that we would dare dart to and fro for the sake of collecting the dirt and grime of the world? That there we would dig into what’s in error, investigate harsh practices, correct misconceptions, re-orient those who are mis-guided, in the complete confidence that this, too, is God’s way. Of sweeping all whom He loves back to Himself.

And He has sent us. Quickly. Right now. Because time is short. In fact, our destination is just around the bend. Let’s not shy away from the pace, or worse, chastise those who are keeping up. Let’s go there thinking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, not as carriers of a banner, but as bearers of good news. Lets get dirty, for God’s sake.

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